Competition and dedicating oneself to one's sport is not, in and of itself, an inherent evil. We all know that being physically active is a good thing. We know that teamwork is a valuable skill to be learned as a child. We are aware that character is often built as we work hard to better ourselves. How can I, as a pastor, encourage
kids to participate in sports (or any extracurricular event) and, yet, demonstrate for parents that there is a balance?
Set the example. How's your own family life? Are you demonstrating for families that are watching that the spiritual development of your family is number one? Live it for the families to whom you minister.
Prioritize. Teach parents that this is a matter of priorities. The truth really is that we have time for what we want to make time for. It really is that simple. Teach them the importance of church attendance, fellowship, and in home discipleship. Resource
Offer alternatives. Offer sporting ministries to people in your community. With so many great resources out there today, it's never been easier for a church to start a sporting ministry in your own community.
Realize that you are not the judge. Many times in ministry, we are quick to see where we think others fall short. Remember that this is not our job. We have to remember that the Holy Spirit is the teacher.
Take it to them. What if, instead of trying to figure out more creative ways to get people into our buildings we went to where they were? What if we led a fun devotional before the start of practice or a big game at the local ballpark? What if we formed relationships with those who make decisions regarding local leagues? What if your church became the sponsor for the local highschool football team and provided encouragement for parents and kids on the team. Host sporting awards banquets. Show the community you want to partner in this area.
My trip to Kansas was an eye opener. I must remember that my first priority is to train my kids to devote themselves to the God they serve above all else. I must also do my best to resource the families in my care. There is so much more at stake than any ballgame ever played. May it be said that I was a good coach.
To read more, pick up Hunter Smith's latest book, "The Jersey Effect, Beyond the World Championship"